Membership in Conference on Disarmament Yields Rights but Also Responsibilities, First Committee Told, as Delegations Make Clear Deadlock Taking Its Toll

6 October 2011
GA/DIS/3432

Membership in Conference on Disarmament Yields Rights but Also Responsibilities, First Committee Told, as Delegations Make Clear Deadlock Taking Its Toll

6 October 2011
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3432
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

First Committee

6th Meeting (AM)

Membership in Conference on Disarmament Yields Rights but Also Responsibilities,

First Committee Told, as Delegations Make Clear Deadlock Taking Its Toll

 

Netherlands Says Fissile Material Ban ‘More Urgent Than Ever’, Prepared

To ‘Pursue Alternative Routes’; India Urges Strong Support of Conference

With membership in the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament came rights but also responsibilities, the representative of the Netherlands told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, deeming the ongoing stalemate in that treaty-negotiating body “unacceptable”.

Persistent deadlock was taking its toll, speakers said today in the Committee’s general debate, as delegations explored strategies for changing the status quo.  The Netherlands Ambassador to the Geneva-based Conference urged the international community to reflect on all options to ensure progress.  He assured members of his country’s readiness to engage on the various proposals to overcome the impasse, in order to take multilateral non-proliferation and disarmament negotiations forward.

The Netherlands, in particular, said the launching of substantive negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty was more urgent than ever, he said.  The start of those negotiations was long overdue and must move forward, preferably within the Conference, but “we would be prepared to pursue alternative routes”, he said.  His country considered the blockage of the whole Conference forum by the “refusal of one Member State even to start negotiations” to be unacceptable and urged that country to join the consensus. 

Sharing the disappointment was India’s Ambassador to the Conference, who said the stalemate was neither by the Conference nor by its rules of procedure.  She urged the First Committee to send a strong and clear signal of support for the Conference as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum and provide political impetus to the multilateral agenda, including the early commencement of a fissile material treaty, on the basis of the agreed mandate.

She said that India, as a nuclear-weapon State and a responsible member of the world community, would approach those negotiations as such, keeping in mind her country’s national security interests.  Subscribing to a policy of a credible minimum nuclear deterrence, India, she explained, did not subscribe to any arms race, including a nuclear arms race.  Her country had espoused a policy of no first-use and non-use against non-nuclear-weapon States and was prepared to convert those undertakings into multilateral legal arrangements. 

But, the end result of justifying the retention of nuclear weapons in large stockpiles as deterrence, warned Lesotho’s representative, had been the upsurge in the number of countries that were today pursuing nuclear weapons programmes, because possession of such weapons bred a climate of distrust, causing others to seek to obtain them.

In fact, said the First Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons had increased significantly over the past decades precisely because dealing with that issue selectively and unfairly had led to the stockpiling of “terrifying” amounts of nuclear weapons and the development of new deadly weapons in many countries, without any regard to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

The NPT had been ineffective, especially in the Middle East, he said, owing to a lack of international efforts, which had encouraged Israel to acquire nuclear weapons, he said.  As a result, the people of the region had lost faith in nuclear non-proliferation, and the arms race had been revived.  And, despite international efforts and conferences, global military spending had increased dramatically in the last five years, while the budget allocated to the United Nations had also declined over the years, he said.

Throughout the day, attention returned to delays in negotiating arms control treaties, with Peru’s representative warning that the safety and security of this and future generations could not afford such risk.  In particular, his country suffered from the consequences of trafficking in small arms and light weapons, and it thus looked forward to the 2012 arms trade treaty conference to contribute, he said, to transparency and control over the source and final destination of arms shipments.

Also addressing the Committee was the Chief Director of the United Nations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Africa.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Azerbaijan, Iran, Colombia, Libya, Malaysia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uganda, Venezuela and Morocco.

Exercising the right of reply were the representatives of Syria, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 7 October, to continue its general debate.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items before the General Assembly.  (For background on the Committee’s session and a summary of reports before it, see Press Release GA/DIS/3429.)

Statements

YUSUF MAMMADALIYEV (Azerbaijan), aligning himself with the statement delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that as a country suffering from the scourge of war and situate in proximity to other conflicts affecting the region, Azerbaijan was fully committed to and making sustained efforts for maintaining international peace, security and stability, including through contributing to peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.  The country had also been actively engaged in addressing the small arms and light weapons proliferation problem at the international level, including by undertaking efforts aimed at strengthening regional cooperation for combating their illicit trafficking.  Azerbaijan also fully supported the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) document on small arms and light weapons of 2000.

However, he said, success in counteracting the illegal proliferation and storage of those weapons in the South Caucasus was only possible through the creation of a stable and secure region, respect for international law, abandonment of territorial claims towards neighbouring nations and discontinuation of support to separatists and terrorists.

He said that the territories of Azerbaijan occupied as a result of armed aggression by neighbouring Armenia had become a “black hole” in the zone of the application of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE).  The international community had lived with and tolerated the situation in which hundreds of pieces of treaty-limited equipment belonging to one State party had been illegally deployed in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, in gross violation of the CFE Treaty provisions.  The occupied territories of Azerbaijan provided the occupying Power with the opportunity to use those areas as repair facilities and, moreover, to transfer and hide treaty-limited equipment from the international control regimes.  The off-budget expenses for the needs of the armed forces deployed in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan were yet additional evidence of militaristic and expansionist aspirations.

The uncontrolled treaty-limited equipment problem, which adversely affected the operation of the CFE Treaty, should be further addressed in a consistent manner to promote the efficiency and integrity of the Treaty’s regime, he said.  Otherwise, as he had repeatedly stated in the past, the CFE community would run the risk of exporting old and unsettled problems to the new negotiations.  Those violations were substantive in nature and affected the Treaty relationship between the parties and called into question the future value and viability of that relationship in an area governed by the Treaty.  In effect, those violations were tantamount to a repudiation of a Treaty commitment.

On another matter, he expressed his country’s full support for the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine Ban Convention) and comprehensive ban of use, storage and transfer of anti-personnel landmines.  Azerbaijan considered that a full ban and destruction of anti-personnel landmines was an important humanitarian objective of the world community in the twenty-first century.  His country was not a party to the Mine Ban Convention, a situation that was influenced by the continuing occupation of its territories and the unfortunate need to use landmines as a measure of containment from possible resumption of hostilities.

At the same time, Azerbaijan had followed most of the Convention’s provisions by not producing or transferring anti-personnel mines, he said. In addition, Azerbaijan had voted in favour of the annual General Assembly resolution on the subject, which, among other things, called for universalization of the Mine Ban Convention.  Azerbaijan thus demonstrated its willingness to support the global endeavour of ridding the world of those menacing weapons.  Moreover, as a sign of its support for the so-called “ Ottawa process”, since 2008, Azerbaijan had voluntarily submitted its report, pursuant to the Convention, article 7.

MOHAMMAD KHAZEE ( Iran) said that after decades of hearing a repeated call to eradicate all nuclear weapons, the threat posed to international peace and security persisted, as thousands of such weapons were still in existence.  It was regrettable that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had maintained their rationale for the use of those weapons.  A country that had used nuclear bombs was still spending millions of dollars to develop further nuclear weapons.  In contradiction to the 2000 and 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), that country also expanded its missile defence shield to get the upper hand in strategic stability over other nuclear-weapon States in Europe and the Far East.  Hosting a missile system would not add to the security of the host countries or that of the country operating such a system.

He said that limited bilateral or unilateral decommission of some deployed nuclear warheads were far below the international community’s expectations.  The principles of irreversibility, transparency and international verifiability should be fully applied in undertaking reduction and disarmament measures.  Nuclear disarmament was the highest priority.  Iran supported the calls to adopt a legal framework for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, including a nuclear weapons convention with a 2025 deadline and a universal and unconditional legally binding instrument on negative security assurances as an intermediate step.

The best way to guarantee the vertical and horizontal non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, he said, was the full and non-selective implementation of the NPT, and assuring its universality, in particular in the Middle East, where the clandestine nuclear weapons programme of the only non-NPT party in the region, which had been assisted mostly by France, seriously threatened regional and international peace and security.

Iran had proposed in 1974 the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, but that was not possible, owing to the persistent refusal of the “Zionist regime” to join the NPT and place its clandestine nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.  That “regime” since its inception had repeatedly attacked and openly threatened to attack other countries in the region, and those reckless actions showed the grave threat it posed, proving how much the nuclear weapons in the hands of such a regime could endanger regional, as well as international, peace and security.  The 1995 NPT resolution on the Middle East should be implemented, and there should be international pressure on the “Zionist regime” to force it to immediately accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon party and place its facilities under IAEA safeguards, in order to remove the only impediment in the way of the long-sought-after goal of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

Fragile consensus at the 2010 NPT Review Conference to adopt recommendations remained a major challenge of the Treaty, he said.  Iran, once again, would present an updated draft resolution on follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences.  Iran had also already initiated a draft resolution on missiles, which it would present at this Committee session, he said, hoping for its broad support.

Turning to other instruments, he underlined the importance of a verification mechanism for the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention), which should be strengthened through multilateral negotiations.  As a victim of chemical weapons during the eight-year war — waged by Saddam Hussein with support of certain western countries — Iran underlined that failure by major-possessor States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) to comply with the 2012 deadline to destroy their chemical weapons would constitute a clear case of non-compliance.

Like other parties to the NPT, Iran had an inalienable right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology, he said, adding that it was determined to exercise that right, and in doing so, it took its responsibilities seriously.  Contrary to baseless allegations made by a few countries in this room, Iran’s nuclear activities were, and had always been, exclusively for peaceful purposes.  Iran had always demonstrated its readiness to negotiations without preconditions and reiterated its willingness to engage in a serious constructive negotiation, based on justice and mutual respect.  It was up to the other parties to change their failed policy of coercion and to demonstrate their goodwill by coming back to the real negotiation and cooperation.

SUJATA MEHTA, Ambassador of India to the Conference on Disarmament, said her country had steadfastly supported global, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament, noting the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free and Non-Violent World Order.  As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said, that action plan set out a concrete road map for achieving nuclear disarmament in a timebound, universal, non-discriminatory, phased and verifiable manner.  The goal of nuclear disarmament could be achieved by a step-by-step process.  Meaningful dialogue was needed among all possessor States, in order to build trust and confidence and for reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines.  The progressive de-legitimization of nuclear weapons was essential to the goal of their complete elimination.

She said her country supported negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a fissile material cut-off treaty that would meet India’s national security interests.  India was a nuclear-weapon State and a responsible member of the world community, and it would approach those negotiations as such.  Sharing the disappointment in the Conference’s impasse, she said the stalemate was not caused by the Conference or its rules of procedure.  The First Committee should send a strong and clear signal of support for the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum and provide political impetus to the multilateral agenda, including the early commencement of a fissile material treaty in the Conference on the basis of the agreed mandate.

India subscribed to a policy of credible minimum nuclear deterrence, and did not subscribe to any arms race, including a nuclear arms race, she said.  Her country had espoused a policy of no first-use and non-use against non-nuclear-weapon States and was prepared to convert those undertakings into multilateral legal arrangements.  She supported negotiations with a view to reaching agreement on effective arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as a global no-first-use treaty.  India remained committed to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.

Recognizing a strong development rationale for the expansion of nuclear energy, India believed that must be achieved without enhancing proliferation risks and should be based on safety and security standards under the IAEA, she said.

Turning to other instruments, she said the Biological Weapons Convention was one of only two treaties banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.  India was an original signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention and had demonstrated its commitments by destroying all such weapons stockpiles.

She said that preventing an arms race in outer space remained a priority in light of the expanding uses of outer space and the spread and evolution of space technologies.  India supported efforts to strengthen the international legal framework on the security of space assets to enhance space security for all space users and specifically to prevent the weaponization of outer space.  While universal and non-discriminatory transparency and confidence-building measures would be useful complementary measures, they could not substitute for legally binding instruments.

Regarding the 2012 conference on an arms trade treaty, the prospects for a viable instrument of universal acceptance would be enhanced only if the interests of all the stakeholders were addressed in a consensus-based process and outcome, without artificial deadlines.  India also anticipated a successful Fourth Review Conference of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW) next month.

At this session, India would be presenting three draft resolutions:  on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons, on reducing nuclear danger; and on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

NÉSTOR OSORIO ( Colombia) reiterated the importance his country placed on multilateralism and the international disarmament machinery.  One of the basic guidelines of Colombia’s foreign policy was the commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation; it was a State party to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlateloco) and had signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  However, Colombia was frustrated with the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament Issues, and he called on its member States to amass political will.  He also urged universalization of the NPT and called for the creation of the nuclear-weapon-free zones as another measure towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

He said his country actively participated in combating the production and trade of firearms and, in that connection, supported the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.  He advocated the establishment of a comprehensive regime of international standards to prevent the smuggling of arms, including marking and halting the transfer of those weapons to non-State actors.  At the national level, Colombia was setting up a coordinating committee on those issues.  Together with Japan and South Africa, Colombia had presented a resolution during the last session on addressing the fight against the spread of those weapons.  The text had been adopted by consensus.

Landmines had wreaked havoc in his country, he said, supporting a stronger commitment to actions to remove them.  It was important to continue with efforts to fulfil commitments to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.  He emphasized that before the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Colombia had eliminated its stockpiles of those weapons.  The country favoured multilateralism and would continue to pursue efforts to protect the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM ( Libya) said the new Libyan Government would adhere to all previous agreements on disarmament and non-proliferation, and he affirmed its total commitment to maintain the present disarmament mechanisms.  Among the major causes of global instability was the spread of arms.  Under the Qadhafi regime, Libya had experienced weapons proliferation.  The collection of those weapons would be one of the priorities of the Transitional Government in its effort to restore order and security nationwide.

He said that the international community was still facing the threats of weapons of mass destruction.  National and international disarmament remained a priority.  The Transitional Government had secured and safely stored all material used in the production of chemical weapons, and he urged all countries to adhere to both the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.  The NPT was the cornerstone of non-proliferation, and Libya supported its three pillars.  He urged its universalization and appealed to all countries, especially those in the Middle East, to adhere to its provisions.  Maintaining the balance between the Treaty’s rights and obligations was basic.  The IAEA’s prominent role must be strengthened.  The NPT and the CTBT were the way towards realizing a nuclear-weapon-free world.  He called on all countries to maintain the criteria established by the CTBT.

Establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones also had his country’s full support, and it favoured the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East, he said.  As a country affected deeply by landmines left over from the Second World War, Libya sought international assistance to address that issue.

HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia), associating with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that there remained thousands of nuclear weapons, which possessed inherent risks to humanity and all life on Earth.  He was disappointed that the Conference on Disarmament had ended its thirteenth consecutive year without any real substantive work.  Against that backdrop, his delegation was compelled to call on all relevant parties to exercise the much-needed political will and compromise to enable further efforts to be taken to attain general and complete disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament.

He said his delegation looked forward to the discussions on the three pillars of the NPT at the Preparatory Committee meeting to be held in Vienna next year.  Malaysia wished to highlight that a balanced implementation between nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation was crucial in ensuring the NPT as the cornerstone of global nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.  Malaysia called upon all States to work together towards the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, particularly the “Annex 2” States, whose signature and ratification were necessary for the Treaty’s entry into force.

At the regional level, Malaysia was party to the Treaty on the South-East Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (Bangkok Treaty).  Malaysia welcomed the ongoing consultations between ASEAN and the nuclear-armed States on the Protocol and looked forward to the timely conclusion of those consultations and, subsequently, its signing.  Establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, as well as Mongolia’s nuclear-weapons-free status, were positive steps.  Malaysia also supported the establishment of a Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, and he called for the timely implementation of the steps towards the convening of the 2012 conference, which could provide the necessary impetus for such a zone.

Malaysia would once again submit its traditional draft resolution on “Follow-up to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons”, he said.  The country had been submitting that text as a reminder of its obligation to pursue, in good faith, and to bring to a conclusion, negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.  Malaysia called on all States to fulfil that obligation by commencing multilateral negotiations leading to the conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention at the earliest date.

In addition, he said, Malaysia undertook to facilitate and participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the use of bacteriological agents and toxins for peaceful purposes as provided under article X of the Biological Weapons Convention.  In line with article IV of that Convention, his country was currently finalizing a biological weapons bill, which would be part of its legislative framework to ensure effective implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention.  There was an ongoing process of engagement with relevant stakeholders to finalize the bill, which was expected to be tabled in the Malaysian Parliament next year.

PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament, said that these were challenging times for the non-proliferation regime.  The ongoing defiance of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea regarding its nuclear weapons programme, Iran’s lack of cooperation in allowing the IAEA to verify the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme, outstanding questions about Syria’s nuclear programme, the danger of nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists, and other non-State actors were all matters of grave concern.  Likewise, the unregulated trade in conventional arms, and the illicit trafficking in and excessive accumulation of small arms and light weapons had adversely affected regional and international security and stability, fuelled conflicts and armed violence, and threatened individual lives.  Those challenges called for a global approach, as well as national and regional actions.

Today, he said, the NPT was more important than ever. It remained the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, as well as the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament, in accordance with article VI, and for the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  The Netherlands called on States that had not yet done so to join the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States.  The Netherlands would continue to make innovative and practical proposals to implement the 2010 Action Plan.  Non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control would remain cornerstones of Dutch foreign policy, with the NPT as its basis and the Action Plan as its road map. 

For his country, non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control were all “facets of the same diamond”, he said.  To support the implementation of the Action Plan, a group of 10 countries, including the Netherlands, had formed the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI).  During its meetings in Berlin on 30 April and in New York on 21 September, participants, at the ministerial level, had decided, among other things, to focus their efforts on greater transparency.  Efforts had also been stepped up for universal accession to the IAEA Additional Protocol.  It was vital to ensure that nuclear activities remained peaceful.

The Netherlands considered the ongoing stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament to be unacceptable, and it deemed the launching of substantive negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty to be more urgent than ever, he said.  The start of those negotiations was long overdue and must move forward, preferably within the Conference, but “we would be prepared to pursue alternative routes”.  The Netherlands considered the blockage of the whole Conference forum by the “refusal of one Member State even to start negotiations” to be unacceptable and urged that country to join the consensus.  That seriously undermined the principle of multilateral cooperation:  with the membership in the Conference on Disarmament came rights, but also responsibilities, he said.

Given the continuing stalemate in the Conference, the international community needed to reflect on all options to ensure progress, he said, adding that his country was ready, during this session, to engage with all United Nations Member States on proposals to overcome the deadlock, in order to take multilateral non-proliferation and disarmament negotiations forward.

On other matters of importance to his country, he sought improved implementation and strengthening of the Biological Weapons Convention and, in that, looked forward to its seventh Review Conference in December.  As President-designate of the Conference, he looked forward to working with all Member States to ensure the most productive outcome.  The Netherlands was honoured to host the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).  The Chemical Weapons Convention had an essential role to play in preventing the risks posed by chemical weapons.  With the destruction of stockpiles well under way, it was time to start thinking about how to make sure that chemical weapons would never reappear.  His country was also committed to universalizing the CTBT and promoting its early entry into force.  It recognized the security and civil benefits of the Treaty’s verification system, and wished to explore the scope for expanding the monitoring system’s civilian use. The Netherlands would continue to utilize diplomatic opportunities to urge States to sign and ratify the CTBT.

SIRODJIDIN ASLOV ( Tajikistan) said that his country attached great importance to strengthening of the disarmament, non-proliferation regimes, revitalizing the process of negotiations for the conclusion of the CTBT and the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  Such zones were essential for promoting nuclear disarmament, preventing proliferation, and contributed to peace and security at the regional and global levels.  The Treaty on the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, fully consistent with the efforts of countries in the region to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, contributed to regional security, cooperation between States and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Consultations would continue on the practical implementation of the provisions of the Treaty, which came into force on 21 March 2009.

He noted the need, however, for further work on the rapprochement of positions of countries of the region and nuclear-weapon States, on receiving negative security assurances, and he urged the latter countries to reaffirm their commitment to provide such assurances and to sign guarantees, under the Treaty in his region, not to use nuclear weapons or threaten to use them against States that did not have them.  Tajikistan underscored the importance of the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones where they did not exist, especially in the Middle East, and expressed support for the Conference in 2012 on its establishment.

Tajikistan, he said, also recognized the central role of the IAEA in strengthening nuclear safety and security, including enhanced cooperation among international organizations.  And, it called attention to the issue of nuclear safety and security.  Tajikistan had inherited from the former Soviet Union numerous mines, mine dumps and uranium tailing ponds.  Those environmentally hazardous facilities, located close to human settlements, seriously threatened the environment and population.  He encouraged States and international organizations with expertise in that sphere to provide assistance in management and rehabilitation of contaminated sites and territories, and to prevent environmental impacts caused by uranium mining and related activities.

Tajikistan reaffirmed its commitment to a full and efficient implementation of the Mine Ban Convention, he said.  In fulfilment of its international obligations under that instrument, his country had implemented its main provisions and, since 2002, had annually submitted the required reports on mine clearance.  Since 2003, some 250 settlements in the area of 4.5 million square metres had been cleared of mines by the Tajik Mine Action Centre.  In line with its commitments under articles 4 and 5 of the Convention, Tajikistan was proceeding with the destruction of all stockpiled anti-personnel mines in its territory.  However, in the further implementation of the Treaty’s article 5, it faced additional difficulties, which significantly slowed the process.  During the Second Review Conference of the States parties, in 2009,  Tajikistan had asked for an extension of the deadline, and that proposal had been supported by all States parties. 

ABDERRAHMAN HUSSAIN AL HAIL, First Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, said that the risk of nuclear proliferation had increased significantly over the past decades because dealing with that issue selectively and unfairly had led to the stockpiling of “terrifying” amounts of nuclear weapons and the development of new deadly weapons in many countries, without any regard to the NPT.  The Treaty had been ineffective, especially in the Middle East, owing to a lack of international efforts, which had encouraged Israel to acquire nuclear weapons.  As a result, the people of the region had lost faith in nuclear non-proliferation, and the arms race had been revived.

Yet another challenge, he added, was the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, as a blind eye was turned to the countries that exported millions of those weapons without any restrictions.  The proliferation of landmines and cluster munitions, such as those planted by Israel in South Lebanon, was another challenge, causing Qatar to sign the Wellington Declaration on cluster munitions, of the Dublin conference.

Stating that Qatar believed in the inviolability of the rights of States to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, he called for the peaceful settlement of the dispute over the Iranian nuclear issue.  It was important to strengthen international peace and security while taking into account the rights of States to defend themselves.

Despite international efforts and conferences, global military spending had increased dramatically in the last five years, he said.  At the same time, the budget allocated to the United Nations had declined.  A peaceful world was not possible unless United Nations Member States met their disarmament commitments and provided the United Nations with the financial resources needed to fulfil its mission of peace.  He called on the world’s countries to be flexible in reaching their common goals and abstain from politicizing the work of the disarmament mechanisms.

MOTLATSI RAMAFOLE ( Lesotho) said the world looked to the United Nations to fulfil its mandate of the maintenance of international peace and security, and the removal of the threats to peace.  However, progress in the First Committee’s work was beset by various setbacks.  The NPT and the CTBT did not enjoy universal support, and a deadlock persisted in the Conference on Disarmament and the United Nations Disarmament Commission.  Agreement had yet to be reached on the text of an arms trade treaty, and challenges abounded in the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.

Continuing, he said that some nuclear-armed States justified the retention of nuclear weapons in large stockpiles as deterrence.  The end result of that strategy had been the upsurge in the number of countries that were today pursuing nuclear weapons programmes, because possession of such weapons bred a climate of distrust, causing others to seek to obtain them.  Indeed, the mere existence of nuclear weapons presented the possibility of their accidental or intentional use.  The aim of eradicating those weapons must be vigorously pursued, via a multilateral approach.  The adoption, by consensus, of the Final Document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference had been a great achievement in the field of disarmament, and parties must build on that momentum as they prepared for the next review.

He said that, despite the fact that the CTBT was of paramount importance for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world, it had still not entered into force more than 15 years after it was first opened for signature.  Its ratification must be accelerated, and he urged States to take action in that regard.  The Conference on Disarmament had been unable to make progress on the nuclear disarmament issues on its agenda for many years.  That paralysis was inexcusable, particularly because the modernization of nuclear weapons was on the rise.  Consequently, he called on its members to urgently implement their programme of work, in order to take the disarmament negotiations forward.

While conventional weapons continued to pose a serious danger to international peace and security, efforts to adequately address their proliferation would soon be a reality, he said.  The progress made in the Preparatory Committee meetings for the arms trade treaty had laid a solid basis for the treaty’s formal negotiations at the July 2012 conference, the goal of which should be to evolve a robust and legally binding treaty that would set the international norms and standards for the transfer and sale of all conventional weapons.

Small arms and light weapons brought untold suffering to people in developing countries, including Lesotho, he said.  Their widespread prevalence impeded global efforts to reduce gun violence.  The 2011 Secretary-General’s Report on Small Arms pertinently observed that the inadequate control and regulation of those weapons in many countries made it easy for them to be diverted into the illegal market and used to commit many crimes.  Lesotho and other States struggled with the problem of curbing those weapons, and required urgent assistance in the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action.  He asked members of the First Committee to renew the faith of the world’s citizenry that the United Nations was not powerless in the face of that and other challenges in the field of disarmament.

ALFREDO CHUQUIHUARA ( Peru) said his new Government was dedicated to transforming economic growth into development through the process of democracy, a process that covered many areas, including disarmament and security.  Foreign policy in Peru was centred on its South American sisterhood, but it also meant participating in processes of a global scope.  Peace and stability were required for economic and social development, and the new Administration was open to dialogue and finding common ground.  Along those lines, social and economic issues could be addressed through effective confidence-building measures and mechanisms.

He said that, as his President had indicated to the General Assembly, arms supplies headed for criminal gangs urgently needed to be controlled.  Peru suffered from the consequences of trafficking of small arms and light weapons, and he supported the United Nations Programme of Action on combating the illicit trade in those weapons.  He also supported the process towards the 2012 arms trade treaty conference, which would contribute to transparency and control over the source and final destination of arms shipments.

Given the economic realities, Peru believed it was unacceptable to continue bloated military spending, especially when funds were needed to fight poverty, improve health and other social development areas.  As for the Conference on Disarmament, its deadlock should end, in order for it to adopt a balanced programme of work.  It was urgent for the Conference to begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and negative security assurances.  The safety and security of this and future generations did not permit further delays.

LESLIE GUMBI (South Africa), associating with the Africa Group, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa, and Sweden), said that South Africa continues to be gravely concerned over the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.  Due to their reach and indiscriminate nature, these weapons threatened not only individual countries, but the international community as a whole.

He said his country had consistently reaffirmed its full commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons and to the multilateral system that sought to advance that objective.  South Africa believed that the only absolute guarantee against the use of those weapons was their complete elimination and the assurance that they would never be produced again.  Nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were inextricably linked, and continuous and irreversible progress was required on both fronts.

For those in the developing world, poverty and the excessive accumulation of small arms and light weapons had remained a serious threat and the real weapons of mass destruction, he said, calling strongly for the establishment of effective partnerships to enhance the benefits of technical cooperation and assistance in the peaceful uses of nuclear, chemical and biological sciences, technologies and applications.  South Africa believed that the intensification of the peaceful uses of the atom, biology and chemistry would contribute to the socio-economic enhancement of the developing countries while also placing them in good stead to realize their Millennium Development Goal benchmarks.

South Africa was committed to a rules-based international system and to strengthening multilateral governance in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, he said.  It was disappointed that the United Nations Disarmament Commission, as the sole deliberative body in the Organization’s disarmament machinery, concluded another of its three-year cycles without any substantive results.  He regretted that the Conference on Disarmament had again failed, this year, to begin negotiations on any of its agenda items.

He said the largest weapons possessors had not moved far enough in translating into practice their political commitment to disarmament and international security.  On the contrary, they had selectively focused on non-proliferation in a manner that did not recognize the symbiotic and mutually reinforcing relationship between disarmament and non-proliferation.  Likewise, disarmament had been handled in a manner that fell far short of improving the prospects of international security, even though the “colossal” effects of conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction had been seen in the past two world wars, in the aftermath of nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

JAKKRIT SRIVALI ( Thailand ) said disarmament and arms control were indispensable in the maintenance of international peace and security.  He urged all States parties to the NPT to fulfil their obligations and seriously pursue and implement the 2010 Review Conference’s recommendations and the Secretary-General’s five-point nuclear disarmament plan.  He welcomed the entry into force of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START), and believed that negative security assurances were significant confidence-building measures between nuclear-weapon States and their non-nuclear-weapon counterparts.  Thailand supported the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones globally, which could lead to the ultimate goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Since the end of the cold war, he said, the spectre of nuclear terrorism had grown.  Thailand was committed to implementing Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), with a view to addressing the threat posed by non-State actors.  The Fukushima Nuclear Power Station incident earlier this year was a “wake-up call” that nuclear safety could not be taken for granted.  The international community must urgently and effectively address this issue to restore public confidence in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  All States should increase support for and cooperation with the IAEA.

The Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions were key international instruments to combat weapons proliferation, he said, and he looked forward to participating in upcoming events on those agreements.  Thailand also supported the implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons, and in that context, supported the work leading up to the 2012 conference on an arms trade treaty. Given the deadlocked Conference on Disarmament, strong political will shown at the high-level meetings on the body should now be translated into concrete results.  All States should have the right to participate in the discussion and negotiating process and Thailand firmly believed that the Conference must engage all stakeholders, calling on expanding its membership.

ADONIA AYEBARE ( Uganda), aligning himself with the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, reaffirmed Uganda’s commitment to the NPT and the CTBT, saying that only by taking concrete steps towards disarmament and non-proliferation could peace be attained.  It was important to sustain the momentum gained by the 2010 NPT Review conference, especially its recommendations.  Many countries in Africa, including Uganda, had suffered from the negative effects of the proliferation of illicit conventional arms, especially small arms and light weapons, which fuelled conflicts.  Uganda, therefore, supported an arms trade treaty and looked forward to finalizing it in 2012.  It was necessary that it be “balanced, non-discriminatory, universal, effective, and equitable”.

He said his Government had undertaken to destroy large numbers of assorted illicit small arms and light weapons, ammunition, and unexploded ordnance to prevent their circulation.  Uganda welcomed the adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by the United Nations and the enhancing of counter-terrorism efforts by various international, regional, and subregional bodies, such as the Counter-Terrorism Committee and its Executive Directorate (CTED).

Although Uganda had taken concrete steps to combat terrorism through new and existing legislation, the country faced technical and human resource restraints, he said.  It was necessary, therefore, to commit more resources and technical assistance, including “training in detecting, investigating, and suppressing financing of terrorism and the development of related databases and software”.  Uganda welcomed the renewed global attention to effective disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms that were supported by strong systems of verification and compliance.

JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO ( Venezuela) said the current economic crisis had affected many countries in many areas, and the current stalemate in arenas for discussions of disarmament matters was regrettable.  Certain hegemonic powers had hijacked the work in that area, which should be effectively endeavouring towards a peaceful world.  International nuclear disarmament efforts must be vertically and horizontally connected to non-proliferation.  During the fifth and sixth Review Conferences of the NPT, the objectives had not been achieved, owing to the lack of political will of some nuclear-weapon Powers.  The results of those reviews, however, did open up a space for discussions.  Nevertheless, it was necessary to overcome unilateralism to move ahead.

He said that NPT States parties had a sovereign right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful uses, under IAEA safeguards.  Iran should have that right, he added.  Granting negative security assurances was particularly relevant, and an international instrument that was binding should be created to ensure that nuclear-weapon States provided those assurances.  Multilateralism was the most complete and safest approach to disarmament.  He hoped the Conference on Disarmament would be able to emerge from the current impasse so it could address the priority issues, including a fissile material cut-off treaty and negative security assurances.  The Programme of Action on the illicit small arms and light weapons trade was a political instrument.  He valued current efforts being made by States to combat those weapons.

Right of Reply

Exercising his right of reply, Syria’s delegate said that the only nuclear threat in the Middle East was Israel, which had stated that it wanted to open a dialogue that was not genuinely committed to the idea of creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He said the Netherland’s delegate had today inaccurately referred to Syria.  Other incidents should be noted.  He pointed to a 1992 air crash near Amsterdam, with a cargo of chemical and radioactive materials, saying that the incident proved the Netherlands’ “hypocrisy”.  In the Dutch delegate’s statement, he also never called on Israel to join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State. 

He said that the Norwegian delegate had repeated in this Committee the same allegations, criticizing others, when her country had contributed to helping Israel develop nuclear weapons, he said.  As she was Ambassador to Israel, Norway’s delegate knew better than anyone what the situation was.  If Norway truly wanted to ensure non-proliferation, it should help with the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone and stop providing nuclear technology and materials to Israel.  And if Norway’s intentions were good, it should help the IAEA to put an end to the Israeli nuclear weapons programme that threatened peace and security.

He said France, whose delegate had also addressed the Committee, was also responsible for supplying Israel with a nuclear reactor.  He would be pleased, as would other colleagues here, to hear a courageous presentation from France and other representatives who had supplied nuclear technology and materials to Israel evince an echo of guilt when criticizing Syria.  That was a double standard, and a manner of addressing issues in a deceptive way.  Issues of a technical nature should not be politicized here in New York.  He added that, in the past, France had tested its weapons in Algeria, near to inhabited areas.  That was a crime.

The Chair suggested that delegates reply to statements given that day, and not on previous days.

Armenia’s delegate, exercising her right of reply, said her country was outraged at the statement of the Azerbaijan’s delegate.  Enormous growth of military expenditures and anti-Armenian rhetoric was a reflection of Azerbaijan’s arms race policy.  That country had carried out ethnic cleansing in regions of Armenia.  Azerbaijan had also rejected the Secretary-General’s calls and other international calls to enforce the ceasefire agreement.

The CFE was being violated, she said.  The continued Azerbaijan policy could not lead to any positive results, and Armenia would continue to follow up on Azerbaijan’s treaty violation case.

Exercising his right of reply, Azerbaijan’s delegate said it was internationally recognized that Armenia had occupied one fifth of Azerbaijan territory.  Armenia’s President, when visiting NATO headquarters last year, boasted about a flourishing military.  That was a great concern. All of Armenia’s efforts were about misinforming the international community. 

Once there was economic development, he said, increases in State budgets, in all areas, followed.  Azerbaijan’s military expenditures were not exceeding a normal level in peaceful times.  Comparative analysis showed that Armenia was much more militarized, in terms of personnel and the quantity of arms, he said.

He noted that in 2001, when Armenia had submitted reports to the United Nations, it had omitted reporting eight tanks.  In 2005, it did not report combat aircraft.  Armenia only reported those omitted items when Azerbaijan had raised the issue.

Exercising her right of reply, Armenia’s delegate said that at a time when this Committee was joining efforts to advance the disarmament agenda, Azerbaijan detracted from the issues.

Azerbaijan’s delegate replied that the previous remarks by Armenia’s delegate demonstrated how that country was not helping discussions on peace in the region.  The fact of occupation was recognized by the General Assembly and international community.

Statements

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said deliberations in this Committee marked progress towards finding responses to current challenges.  The enhanced effectiveness of the mechanisms to implement current obligations rested on political will.  Through dialogue, compromise had been reached in the past, yet it was vital to remember through those deliberations, the ultimate goal:  general and complete disarmament.  Morocco believed in making a number of efforts towards that common goal.  The first should be establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, thereby implementing the 1995 NPT Review Conference recommendations.  He looked forward to the 2012 conference on such a zone and hailed the European Union for holding an academic seminar on the subject.

He said that the Conference on Disarmament, since its creation, had established itself as a forum where States could argue their positions.  The paralysis in the Conference did not reflect the positive global disarmament developments.  The problems were of a political nature, and a special session on disarmament should investigate the matter.  The CTBT should be entered into force as early as possible, and he called on all States to ratify the Treaty.  Despite broad support, the Treaty was yet to enter into force.  Non-proliferation commitments and standards must also be scrupulously respected.  States had a right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Noting the incident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station, he expressed hope that safety issues would be addressed.

Turning to conventional weapons, he said arms control was essential, especially regarding the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  Marking and tracing should also take place.  Morocco believed in a strong arms trade treaty that included small arms and light weapons, and earlier this year, had held a conference on the coming 2012 meeting on such a treaty.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.